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Len Kabasinski is an indie filmmaker from right here in my home town of Erie Pennsylvania. He has been making films, almost one a year, since 2005. He specialize in genre films, horror mostly. He’s made films about zombies, vampires, and ninjas among others under the Killer Wolf Films title, which are regular features at the Eerie Horror Film Festival. His most recent film, Skull Forest, was screened a the 2012 EHFF and showcases some of Monster Mark Kosobucki‘s special effects handy work.

Skull Forest begins with two parallel stories that soon intertwine. The first involves Caroline, a mother of two who’s husband recently past away. With a little coaxing, her mother talks her into joining three of her friends for weekend getaway camping trip.

Women be camping.

The other story involved a clandestine organization of affluent, highly skilled killers. Each has special training in a particular field. Some are trappers, some are marksmen, some are knife experts and others are martial artists, all of which vaguely remind me of Bond villains. A half dozen or so of these killers have scheduled a hunting trip, with a wager as to who can bring down their prey first. And what do the murderous super rich like to hunt? Well, people of course.

It just so happens that the two groups have picked the same game land to conduct their weekend hijinks. The ladies reminisce, telling stories and pranking each other when “The Prey” stumbles into their camp site. Frantic and speaking another language he frightens the women. Luckily for them, one of the girls, Tori, a warrant officer, played by former Play Boy playmate Lisa Neeld, happened to bring her gun along. There she stands, pointing her gun at the head of the rambling foreigner, telling him not to move as she stands naked and wet from bathing in the nearby river.

It's too bad the words "guns" and "jugs" don't rhyme.

It was at this moment that I realized what Len was going for. Skull Forest is like an old exploitation movie. A totally nude, gun wielding woman isn’t anything out of the ordinary for a Roger Corman flick and Skull Forest is of the same ilk. Not to mention, if there is a Play Boy playmate in your movie, she had better get naked. Otherwise, what’s the point. Am I right?

Once the ladies think they have the situation under control, Caroline and Sara keep an eye on their prisoner, while Tori and Liz look for help. As they wait for help to arrive, Caroline and Sara witness a sniper’s bullet rocket through the foreigners skull and the two women high tail it outta there. The hunters call a huddle and decide that if any witnesses get away it could be bad for their clandestine organization. “It‘s a judgment call.”

The hunters soon catch up with women. They kill and bury them, not before burning all of their possessions. In their search, a few of the killers crossed paths with Tori and Liz. After a cat and mouse chase through the forest, the girls manage to outsmart and pick off several of the hunters before they are also killed.

Just when all seams lost, Caroline, wounded and naked, crawls from the grave to seek revenge in a scene that is very I Spit On Your Grave, or Kill Bill. She climbs to her feel and stumbles to a near by cabin. She cleans herself up, patched her wounds and finds clothes. As she makes her way back into the forest, she passes a pile of burning embers. It’s the remains of the women’s clothing. In it, she notices a partially burned photograph. It’s the one that she carried with her of her children. This lights a fire under Caroline’s ass. If she wasn’t pissed before, she is now.

The final showdown.

With her dead friends and children on her mind, Caroline stalks the forest looking for the remaining hunters to become her prey. I’ll save the ending from you so I don’t spoil much more. But it’s fair to say that comeuppance are dished out.

Skull Forest is an uncomplicated story about good old fashioned revenge. It’s low budget and it suffers from low budget problems. Like having a cast who possesses a variety of acting ability, audio levels not being consistent and small editing gaffs. But with that said, I think this just might be Len Kabasinski’s best film thus far, and it makes me look forward to seeing his next feature, at the Eerie Horror Film Festival perhaps?

A few more of the hunters.

I enjoyed the cast of characters that made up the villainous hunters. Like Bond villains, they each have very distinguishing physical features, they have vast riches generated by seemingly mundane businesses dealings and of course, their unique hunting talents.

The one that is most memorable to me was Micah “The Gambler” Wolfsblood. A Native American woman who has made millions owning and operating a number of casinos in the south western United States. Among other weapons, she hunts her prey with a bow, because, well, what else could be more fitting?

Each of Kabasinski’s films, Skull Forest included, has a story that is greater in scope than it’s budget will allow, but he is always able to polish off an interesting story in a neat little package. Again, expressing interest in his future films, as he makes more of them, hopefully he can generate more investment dollars. I’d like to see what he can REALLY do.

If you’re a fan of gun toting psychos and gratuitous Play Boy knockers, Skull Forest is for you. Check it out!


★ ★